Posts Tagged 'Prezi'

Nonlinear PowerPoint – “Zoom” Navigation

zoomgirl 2.jpg

While browsing the Insert ribbon recently, I came upon something called Zoom. Since there are already animations and transitions called “zoom”, I wondered what ever this could be?  I discover, despite the name, that it is a new tool for navigating within a presentation.

NOTE: I am an Office 365 subscriber, so things like this do appear unannounced from time to time.  As of this date, this feature is only available on Office 365, although I understand that it will delight purchasers of Office 2019 in the future.

But why a new navigation tool? Links are available and can be used to create a variety of navigation modes.  And, Presenter View (more on this below) offers fully flexible navigation by a presenter. Could it be this is a reaction to Prezi?

Not that on-slide navigation isn’t useful. It allows a presenter to react to his audience and situation and avoid the inexorable march through slides typical of deadly PowerPoint presentations. This is how you can show those “backup slides” without embarrassing fumbling.

This kind of navigation is also helpful for interactive applications where viewers browse through a “presentation”  on their own; introductory sales material and self-guided training are examples. Unfortunately, since PowerPoint is not an internet medium, this is not as widespread as it could be.

NOTE: Conversion of PowerPoint to an interactive internet medium using available software is possible; I have used Flash in the past and hope to experiment soon with HTML5.

You can find other posts on organizing presentations and navigation on this blog; here’s a list of them.

Here are the basics:

  • There are three options in the Insert/Zoom menu: Summary Zoom, Zoom to Section and Zoom to Slide.
  • Summary Zoom and Zoom to Section rely on Sections – essentially bookmarks that you can add to your presentation to divide it into parts also called Sections (!).  Insert Section is available by clicking in the thumbnail display or the Slide Sorter view. Sections cannot overlap, nor can a Section appear inside another Section.
  • Insert/Zoom/Summary Zoom inserts an array of slide images that can be used to navigate to the Sections of the presentation.
  • Zoom to Section creates a single linked image.
  • Zoom to Slide creates a single image that is linked to an individual slide, not a section.
  • All the Zooms include an optional (default) zoom (what else) transition effect.
  • All the Zooms include an optional (default) Return to Zoom – this causes the last click in a Section or on a slide to return to the slide containing the referring image, with a reversed transition effect.
  • You can change the image in a Zoom object from a slide image, for example, to an icon.

Here’s the process for using the basic Summary Zoom:

  • Organize the  presentation using Sections.
  • Insert a slide and select Insert/Zoom/Summary Zoom.
  • Here’s the structure of an example presentation with a Summary Zoom:


  • I created and named sections 1, 2 and 3 and added the title slide. The Default and Summary sections were created automatically.
  • Clicking on one of the slide images in presentation mode links to the first slide of the referenced section (with a zoom transition). You can click through the slides in the section in the usual way. Clicking on the last slide links back to the Summary Section (with a reversed version of the transition).
  • Here’s a screen recording:

Here are some notes on the Summary Zoom:

  • The thing that appears when you insert Summary Zoom is not an ordinary PowerPoint object, nor is it a Group, even though it looks like one:


Thturde array appears to be more akin to a Smart Art diagram except that it can’t be converted to objects. It certainly has the peculiar editing properties of Smart Art (see this post). Why couldn’t it be an ordinary group?

  • Animations cannot be applied to the individual images in the array but the Summary Zoom can be animated.
  • Other animations on the slide appear to work as expected; these animations will repeat when the Return occurs.
  • If the Summary Zoom images are overlapped by each other or by other objects, unwanted artifacts appear during the navigation:
  • You can apply formatting effects to the slide images; these may effect the transitions; here’s a demo:
  • If you use this feature, it makes sense to create section title slides that are legible in the Summary Zoom array and that indicate something about the section content – large images and text are recommended. By the way, changes in these slides are automatically reflected in the Summary Zoom images.
  • Clicking on the Summary Zoom slide but not on one of the images has unexpected results. It appears that clicking on the slide will consecutively cycle through each section; after the sections are shown, a click will terminate the slide show (a fix for this is shown in the next example.

turd   I don’t understand why these clicks don’t behave in the usual way (go to the next slide, for example) or do nothing rather than this behavior. This action may confuse a presenter and certainly disorient a viewer.

By the way, here is the Presenter View for this example (Sections aid in the visual organization but are not required for Presenter View):


The presenter can click on the slide images to navigate; the Presenter View is not visible to the audience. Clearly the presenter has complete control over what is shown and in what order. This doesn’t help a viewer, though.

Here’s a variation on the last example:

In this version, I have used the Zoom to Section option – this creates separate images for each section rather than an array – this makes it easier to rearrange and resize the images.

Also I have added a fix for the off-icon click problem I noted earlier (the later part of the demo shows off-icon clicks that have no effect.)  Here are the details:

  • I added a screen sized rectangle to the Zoom slide (blue in the example but it could be 99% transparent). The rectangle is behind the Summary Zoom but in front of other (non animated or non linked) objects on the slide.
  • A Link is added to the rectangle; the Link points to this slide. Basically the rectangle absorbs off-icon clicks and does nothing.
  • There may be unusual situations where this doesn’t work – a fast double click, for example.

Here’s a demo of an “agenda style” example:

Here are some notes:

  • I used the Summary Zoom option and Changed the Images to button-like icons. I created the icons as objects, converted to PNG (Copy/Paste Special), and saved the image as a file.
  • Zoom Tools/Change Image allows local images, images on the web, or a selection from the Office icon collection to be used to replace the default slide image.
  • I also added additional navigation “buttons” to the slides.These are Zoom to Slide objects with the image changed to icons and with no Return.
  • The buttons allow the presenter/viewer to “escape” from the normal sequence at any point.
    • The “end” button (end.png) allows the presenter/view to link to the end slide – it appears on every slide except the end slide.
    • The “home” button (home.png) allows escape to the Summary Zoom slide, it appears on every slide except the Summary Zoom.
  • A marker (red circle) appears on the last slide in every section; this alerts the presenter/viewer that the next click will return to the Summary Zoom.

There are a couple of issues:

  • The zoom transition is not the best choice in this example. This can be easily fixed: uncheck the Zoom Transition for the Summary Zoom and add whatever transition you like to the first slide of each section. If you want, you can add a transition to the Summary Zoom slide so that there is a transition on the Return to Zoom.
  • The second issue is a  bug (turd): when the slide in the Gold section is clicked on, the end slide appears rather than the Summary Zoom slide; that is, the Return to Zoom doesn’t work as advertised. Oddly, the return works properly if the go-to-end button is removed.

Here’s a version of the agenda example with these issues fixed:


  • I replaced the Zoom to Slide buttons on the slides with Logos with ordinary Links to the appropriate slide. This eliminates the problem on the last slide of section 3 as noted above.
  • I added more appropriate Transitions to the Summary Zoom slide and to the first slide of each section  (Cover and Uncover transitions).

I have  written posts on “Prezi-sty[e” PowerPoint (see here); I tried to recreate these projects using Zoom navigation. Here’s what the Summary Zoom slide looks like:


Here’s a demo:

This works pretty well. However, in my Prezi-style examples, I added animations to the slides; here’s how this looks using Summary Zoom:

As you can see, the text boxes, which are animated with an entry Wipe, appear on the Summary Zoom, even though they do not appear (at first) when the slide is shown (turd).

This can be repaired by replacing the Summary Zoom images with manually created images of the slides; here’s how this looks:

TIP: To convert an entire slide to a picture, use File/Save As, select the appropriate type (e.g., PNG) from the long list. When the dialog box comes up, select the Just this one option.

Another possibility is navigating a network – a number of connected nodes. Here’s a version using Zoom navigation:

The trick here is to create the slides so that the Zoom to Section images can be arranged to look like the whole network. I created the whole network first, using rectangles (red outline) shaped like the visible slide space to help arrange the shapes:


I then used this to build the slides, and finally assembled the Zoom to Section images to create the navigation slide. The default transition was used.

The final example uses tabs on each slide so that navigation is available from any slide; here’s a demo:

Some notes:

  • The tabs are Zoom to Section objects with the image changed.
  • Putting the tabs on the left margin of the slides is less intrusive than putting them at the top when using a wide screen format.
  • The Zoom transition and Return are not appropriate in this example; they are both unchecked.
  • Clicking on the slide space (not on the icons) works normally (i.e., next slide) – this may be because the Return is turned off.

So, Zoom navigation provides an alternate means to allow a presenter or a viewer to navigate through a presentation. It works well in its simplest form but its value is diminished somewhat by the issues that show up in more complex usages.


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Archive: Organizing and Navigating Presentations


It is useful to structure a presentation so that it can be customized for various audiences and so the presenter can dynamically modify the content to react to audiences or situations.  These are also important considerations for reader-guided situations; that is, when there is no presenter.

I’ve written several posts on this general subject and created an archive/index  here, for your gratification and amazement (earliest first):

Breaking Out: Nonlinear PowerPoint  using Links in a sales presentation to tell customer stories that are appropriate for your audience

Using PowerPoint Custom Shows for Sales Presentations – organizing a sales presentation “library” for creating “custom” presentations.

Using Agenda Slides in PowerPoint (Updated with Videos) using animations to help your audience follow your presentation.

Prezi Style PowerPoint – navigating through your presentation with Prezi-like effects.

More Prezi-style PowerPoint – another navigation scheme remarkably like the new Zoom feature.

Tabs in PowerPoint – using web-style “tabs” to dynamically select content for your presentation

Animating Mind Maps in PowerPoint – using Links to navigate a mind map structure.

Prezi-style PowerPoint Updated – recreating the effects described in the earlier post using a simpler method.

Prezi-style PowerPoint Updated

I have published several posts demonstrating techniques for approximating Prezi’s “pan and zoom” style in PowerPoint. The idea is to allow you to combine this engaging visual style with other PowerPoint features (e.g., animation).

This post showed you how to make a presentation that explored a simple space containing geometric objects; the technique involves making several “scenes” and creating prezi-like transitions using zoom and motion path animations to move the viewer through the space. Although this method works, it is a little tricky and I found it difficult to explain.

In PowerPoint 2016, a “Morph” transition was introduced that makes prezi-style PowerPoint much easier. Here’s a version of the presentation in the earlier post; this one is created using the Morph transition:

Here’s how I made this sequence:

  • First, I created the welcome slide; it displays the entire space that I plan to explore: a slide-size background (yellow) and three shapes (I’ll take care of the text later). I Grouped the background and shapes into a single object; I’ll call this the “space group.”
  • Next, I Duplicated the first slide to make the second slide.
  • On the second slide, I enlarged the space group by about 200% and positioned the group so that the blue circle is centered in the visible slide space (zoom in to make this easier). Here’s what the second slide looks like (I added a blue slide-sized rectangle to show the slide boundaries; you can see that only the desired part of the enlarged space group will be visible):


  • Next, I selected the Morph transition for the slide, I accepted the default timing and options. The Morph transition will create zooming and motion so that the first slide will smoothly transform into the “close-up” I created on the second slide.

NOTE: there is much more to the Morph transition, both good and evil. I will be exploring some of these traits in later posts.

  • I repeated the process of duplicating, editing and applying the transition to create slides three and four; slide four includes a rotation. Here’s what the sequence looks like (again, the blue rectangle shows the visible slide):


  • Finally, I added the text and and animations.

I was able to create this sequence in a few minutes – much less time than the original method.

A spicier example using the Morph transition can be found here  My method for animating mind maps (see post) can also be simplified using Morph.

Like all PowerPoint features, the Morph transition is not without problems.  To see one of them, let’s examine a variation of this sequence; suppose I want, not unreasonably,  to add outlines and text to the shapes in the “space:”


Here’s the first transition using Morph as before:


turdThis particular problem is not with Morph itself, but is a result of enlarging the group to create the second slide; to whit: PowerPoint’s idiotic rule that the usual tools used to resize objects do not apply to point-measured details like line width and font size. In particular, when the scene is enlarged (using the sizing handles or Format Shape/Size) the text and outlines are not enlarged.

This problem will occur with any point-measured feature including shadows, soft edges, glows and 3d parameters like bevels and depths. Why these are measured in points is an enduring mystery.

I know of three ways to fix this:

  • Do the job PowerPoint should have done; that is, change the line widths and font sizes to correspond with the enlargement. In the case of the blue circle, the enlargement is 200% so I changed the line width from 6 points to 12 and the font size from 48 to 96 points. This isn’t difficult – fractions of points work just fine.  Here’s the first transition after the point sizes were manually adjusted:
  • Another method is to convert (Copy/Paste Special) the scene to a picture (e.g., png) and enlarge it for the second slide. Even though this is easy, the issue is that PowerPoint doesn’t do a great job enlarging pictures so the result may be a little fuzzy:
  • Another method is to avoid lines and text altogether – this is the most difficult but will exercise your PowerPoint skills. The diagram below illustrates the steps to build the blue circle without lines and text.
    • The outlined circle is made with two concentric circles, one slightly larger than the other.
    • The text is converted to Freeform by Intersecting the text with a Rectangle (Intersect is a Merge Shapes option).
    • Grouping the circles with the Freeform creates an object that can be enlarged to create the desired result.


I conclude, dear reader, that Morph provides an easy way to create Prezi-like transitions in PowerPoint but also, sadly, that Morph is a little like decorating a badly constructed house: flaws may be exposed.

If you want to see more details, use the link below and click on the PowerPoint icon to download a free “source” PowerPoint file containing the Prezi-style transition sequence:

Powerpointy blog – Prezi-style PowerPoint updated

See this page for more on downloading files.

If you have questions, praise or complaints, please add a comment below. If you appreciate my efforts, liking or following this blog might be a good idea.


Animating Mind Maps in PowerPoint


NOTICE: An updated version of this post is available; it uses Morph transitions (available in newer versions of PowerPoint) to greatly simplify the animations.

A “mind map” is a graphical representation of a hierarchy of related subjects, concepts, etc. It can be a tool for developing/brainstorming ideas (and fighting crime!) or as a way to present information. You can use a mind map to present your product line, markets, customer categories or marketing plan, for example. For more on mind maps, look here.

Combining mind map graphics with simple animation is a solid way to present your concept clearly while relating the parts to the whole. And, you can avoid overloading your audience.

Of course, there are other hierarchical representations: the dreaded bullet list and several of the Smart Art options, for example. I used a circular “wheel” graphic to represent a hierarchy in this post. Simple animation will improve all of these approaches by presenting information in digestible chunks and emphasizing relationships.

Here’s a sequence presenting an internet marketing plan using an animated mind map:

The first “scene” displays the “top level map,” animating each second-level element progressively. This provides the audience with an overview of the plan. Subsequent scenes focus on each of the five second-level plan elements, developing its components.

Showing this plan all at once is a bad idea. You will loose your audience’s attention while they read the parts and follow the relationships. Once they’ve done this, many will not be interested in hearing your pitch because they think they already know all there is to know.

To create this sequence, I first decided what each Scene should look like and created each one on a separate slide:

Next, I made the transition slides between each pair of Scenes. Each transition slide implements a motion path that moves the top level map from its position in the previous Scene to the desired position in the next Scene. For example, here’s the slide that implements the transition from Scene 1 to Scene 2:

As you can see, the motion path moves the top level map to a position that results in the “Social Media” block being positioned at the bottom center of the slide, as it should be for Scene 2. Scene 2 is completed by animating the components of the Social Media plan using Wipe animations. Here’s Scene 2 with its Animation Pane:

Here’s how to build a transition slide:

  • First, insert a blank slide between the two Scenes.
  • Copy the top level map object from the previous Scene and Paste onto the blank transition slide. It will appear in the same position as in the previous Scene.
  • Next, Copy the top level map from the next Scene to the transition slide. This copy of the top level map will serve as a “target” for the motion path.
  • Apply a Line motion path to the top level map from the previous Scene and set the end point to the “center” of the target.
  • Carefully setting the end point of the motion path on the transition slide assures that the top level map appears in precisely the same position on the transition slide as in the next Scene, otherwise there will be a “jump” as the next Scene appears.
  • Later versions of PowerPoint have a feature that is helpful; when setting the end point of a motion path, a “ghost” version of the object appears as an aid to positioning the end point. Here’s an image of setting the endpoint for the transition between Scenes 2 and 3:

  • For clarity, the “target” object has a black outline and no fill. The ghost of the top level map is labeled; it automatically appears as the endpoint is being moved. In this image the endpoint is slightly in error; you should move the endpoint so that the “ghost” and the target coincide exactly (try zooming in the make this easier).
  • Test the transition (Slide Show) so that there is no visible “jump” in the position of the top level map between the transition and the next Scene.

I have complained about distraction caused the motion path “ghost” feature in other posts; this is a situation when it is actually helpful.

Once the transition slides are complete and tested, remove the targets and check Transition/Advance/After 00:00:00; this causes the animations to occur automatically, regardless of any On Click settings, and the Transition to the next slide as soon as the animations complete.

I have used similar transition techniques in couple of other posts:

If you want to see more details, use the link below and click on the PowerPoint icon to download a “source” PowerPoint file containing this project:

Powerpointy blog – animating mindmaps

See this page for more on downloading files.

If you have questions, praise or complaints, please add a comment below. I you appreciate my humble efforts, liking or following this blog might be a good idea.



More Prezi-style PowerPoint

zoom girlOne of the things that Prezi brings to the table is a non-linear presentation style. Rather than being locked in to a start-to-finish sequence, the presenter can react to the audience and, in the case of a web-based presentation, the viewer can directly navigate to specific areas of interest.

Some of my earlier posts have addressed this:

  • Non-linear navigation – this post outlines the benefits of non- linear navigation (along with caveats) and demonstrates the use of hyperlinks in PowerPoint. In particular, it points out that a stand-up presenter must use a true pointing device to select and activate hyperlinked objects.
  • “Custom Slide Shows” – shows how to use a feature called “custom slide shows” to organize presentation material so that sales presentations can be tailored to specific prospects.
  • Prezi-style navigation and effects – demonstrates animation techniques that mimic Prezi zooming effects.

I am also inspired by a couple of other things:

  • A reader pointed me to pptPlex, an unsupported “Office Labs experiment” – a free PowerPoint plugin (released in 2011).
  • I ran across a July 2014 press release on ActivePlex, an add-in from GMARK.

Both of these appear to support non-linear presentations based on PowerPoint. I have not used either of these and have no opinion regarding them. If you have had experience with either of these, please let me know what you think (comment or use the form at the end of this post).

So, here’s the plan:

  • The presentation material is organized into a series of Custom Shows, each addressing a specific topic (intro/about us, portfolio, customer profiles, etc.).
  • The “canvas” or “map,” the starting point for navigation, is a slide containing images of the first slide of each of the Custom Shows. A hyperlink is associated with each image so that it provides a clickable link to the corresponding show.
  • The first slide of each show is designed so that it is legible as a smaller image on the map.
  • Each slide includes an escape button that returns to the map. This allows the presenter or viewer to cut short that show.
  • Prezi-style “zoom” transitions are provided for each show entry and exit.
  • Other navigation is restricted so that the presenter/viewer can’t go astray in the “deck.”

Here’s a diagram for the example I’ll build here (four shows):

prz2 1

The process:

  • Build each segment/show – create or collect the slides as a sequence in the file. Design the opening slide so that it will be legible as the smaller image on the map. For now, insert a blank slide for the transitions (the first and last slides). For the example, I created 4 shows, each with 3 slides.
  • Define each sequence as a Custom Show:  Under Custom Slide Show/Custom Shows select New. Using the Define Custom Show pane, name the show and select the slides in the file and add to the new show. Continue for each segment.
  • Hide each slide in each show. This will prevent the presenter/viewer from accidentally selecting slides in the show. Even though the slides are hidden, they will appear normally when the Custom Show is evoked.
  • Make a full-sized png image of the first slide in each show. You can do this by using the presentation Save As function. Position at the slide, select Save As/Other Formats/PNG and select the Save Current Slide option.
  • Make the map/canvas slide – create a new slide as the first slide, and insert each slide image. Reduce each image and arrange on the slide. Here’s the map slide for the example:

map image

  • For the prezi-style zoom transitions, it will be useful to know the size of each image relative to the slide. In my example each image is 4 inches wide and the slide is 10 inches (the default slide size).
  • Set up each image as a clickable link to the corresponding show. Right click an image and select Hyperlink… . In the Edit Hyperlink pane, select Place in This Document. Find the Custom Shows item in the list and select the appropriate show. Check the Show and Return box.
  • Add an exit button to each slide in each custom show. Design an unobtrusive object to act as the button (I used a “rewind”symbol) and create a reduced size PNG version of the object. Right click on the reduced object and select Hyperlink… . Select Place in This Document and, under Slide Titles, select the map slide. Paste the button on each slide in this show. Repeat the process for each show.
  • It’s a good idea to add a Screen Tip to each hyperlinked object (the slide images and the exit button). This is text that appears when the mouse is over (hovers over) the hyperlinked object. The text appearance will  signal to the presenter/viewer that the object is linked and provide information about the purpose of the link. This option is available in the Edit Hyperlink pane.
  • Test the result – exercise all the links and assure that clicking the last slide in each show returns to the map slide.

Here’s an annotated slide sorter view of the resulting file:

prz2 2

The hyperlinks from the map slide are shown in yellow. The escape button is linked to the map slide. All the transition placeholder slides are shown in gray. Note that a return link from each show is not needed since the entry links have the Show and Return option selected.

Each show has a prezi-style (entry) transition and a reverse (exit) transition. Here’s what the entry transition looks like:

The PowerPoint animation is smoother than the video indicates.

As usual, I approach this by setting up a “target” object for the animation. Here are the steps:

  • Create a full size png version of the map slide using Save As and Insert it on the transition slide.
  • Enlarge the map slide image by 250%.
  • Create a center point (“cross hair”) of the image by drawing a Line from the midpoint of one side of the image to the opposite side and repeat for the remaining two sides. The end points of the Lines will turn red when they are properly positioned.

I would normally use drawing guides for this but, since PowerPoint does not allow drawing guides outside the boundaries of a slide, I use the “cross hair” technique instead.

  • Carefully position the enlarged slide image with the Lines so that the first slide is positioned exactly in the visible slide space. It’s helpful to create a slide-sized rectangle in front of the image to identify the slide space boundaries. Here’s what the setup looks like:

prz2 7

  •  The yellow rectangle outlines the visible slide space.
  • Now that the “target” is set, add another image of the map slide, original size, positioned in the slide space.
  • Apply a Right motion path to the original image. Uncheck Smooth Start/End and set the duration to Fast (1 sec). Carefully position the end point of the motion path to the intersection of the red lines on the larger image.
  • Add a Grow/Shrink 250% With the motion path and Fast duration.
  • Set the Advance Slide option to Advance Automatically after 00:00 sec.
  • Test the result and modify the position of the target and the motion path end point until the transition is smooth. Here’s the final set up:

prz2 4

Once the animation is adjusted to your liking, you can remove the “target” (the enlarged image). Since the slide advance is automatic, the somewhat fuzzy result of the Grow animation is immediately replaced by the actual slide.

Repeat the process to provide an entry transition for each story. You can re-use the story 1 transition slide but reposition the large image and modify the motion paths.

The reverse or return animation looks like this:

The construction of this animation is complicated by a PowerPoint bug that causes motion paths for large objects (more than twice the size of the slide space) to work incorrectly.

NOTE: A reader informs me that there is no sign of this bug in the latest PowerPoint versions

Here are the steps:

  • Set drawing guides as shown below; these will serve as targets for the motion paths and an aid for the next step:

prz2 5

  • Insert the map slide image and, using the Crop tool and the 0.0 in. vertical guide, create two halves of the map slide image:

prz2 6

Temporarily, group the two halves together and enlarge the group by 250%. Position the group so that the image of slide 1 is centered in the visible slide space (the yellow rectangle identifies the slide space as before):

prz2 7

Ungroup the image into its two parts and apply the motion paths (and Grow/Shrink 40%) to each half as shown here:

prz2 8

  •  Repeat for each story, using this slide, repositioning the image and modifying the motion paths.

A  couple of additional notes about restricting the presenter/viewer navigation:

  • You can use the PowerPoint Advanced/Slide Show option to disable Show Menu on Right Mouse Click and Show Popup Toolbar.  Obviously, this will prevent the presenter/viewer from getting off track. Warning: this is a global option – it is not a setting for this particular file but for all PowerPoint presentations.
  • As it now stands, clicking on the map slide at locations other than the slide images will end the presentation; this might be disconcerting for the presenter/viewer. For a solution, create a slide-sized rectangle behind the slide images and add a hyperlink to this slide. Add an object as an end button and link it to a dummy last slide. Here’s a diagram:

prz2 9

  •  With this arrangement, the slide images work as before, the exit button ends the presentation, and any other clicks stay on this slide.

As usual, if you want a free copy of the example presentation developed in this post, use the link below and click on the PowerPoint icon to download a “source” PowerPoint file:

Powerpointy blog – More prezi-style

See this page for more on downloading files.

If you have questions, praise or complaints, please add a comment below. If you appreciate my efforts, liking or following this blog might be a good idea.

Prezi Style PowerPoint

Prezi is an alternative to PowerPoint and has achieved some impact as a presentation tool. For some applications, zooming around a “map” of concepts, categories or ideas is an engaging method of presentation.

My brief experience with Prezi was disappointing: Prezi has no drawing tools and no animation beyond pan/zoom and fade in (see here for other shortcomings.)  Prezi seems to be a one-trick pony (see this post for more on this view).

Of course, you can make bad presentations in Prezi just as easily as you can in PowerPoint.

Can you incorporate Prezi style pan and zoom transitions in PowerPoint? The answer is yes but it’s a little tricky. You can read this post and decide for yourself whether it’s worth the effort.

Here’s the basic idea. Prezi manipulates the point of view of the audience, moving a “camera” around a “canvas” (a diagram or map), focusing on particular elements. In PowerPoint, the Prezi effect can be approximated by manipulating the canvas – moving, rotating and zooming the canvas within the visible frame formed by the slide outline.

Here’s a PowerPoint sequence that demonstrates the technique:

The canvas, containing three objects, is displayed in Scene 1 followed by transitions to three additional scenes. Each scene positions the canvas in the frame (slide outline) so that the desired result is achieved. Here’s a diagram (the “frame”or slide outline is a red-outlined rectangle the same size as a slide):

You can see that in Scene 2, for example, the canvas is enlarged and shifted so that the blue circle is centered in the slide outline.

Once the scenes have been built, you can create the three transitions between scenes. (This is a technique I use a lot for animations: make the starting picture and the ending picture and then devise the transition between the two.)

Here’s how you can create the scenes:

  • Create Scene 1. For the canvas, I used a gray gradient filled rectangle the same size as the slide and grouped it with three objects: a blue circle, a smaller red circle and a tilted green square.

  • If you have rotated objects like the green square on your canvas, make a note of the amount of rotation (+15 degrees in this case).
  • The red outline identifies the slide boundary and delineates the part of the canvas that will appear in Slide Show mode. This will help when positioning the canvas for the subsequent scenes (keep the red rectangle in Front).
  • To create Scene 2, duplicate Scene 1. Keeping the red rectangle fixed, move the duplicated canvas so that the blue circle is centered in the red slide outline. Re-size the canvas object by 199% (more about this later). Use Format Shape/Size to resize the canvas; set Lock Aspect Ratio and change the Scale Width to the appropriate percentage. Make a note of the percentage.
  • The red rectangle now outlines the part of the canvas that will actually show on the screen in Slide Show mode:

  •  Now create the remaining scenes using the same methods. For the remaining scenes, the canvas is not enlarged. Scene 4 features a rotation to “square up” the square – 15 degrees (remember?).

Now that the scenes are completed, build the transitions between the scenes.

  • Build the transitions using separate slides. Using a separate slide for each transition isolates the transition animations and simplifies adding other animations to each scene, if needed.
  • Now build the transition between scenes 1 and 2. First, duplicate scene 1; this will be the basis for the transition 1 slide.
  • A Grow animation and a simultaneous motion path will be added to the canvas on the transition slide. The Grow is straightforward, the motion path is a little tricky; the end point location (target) needs to be established.
  • To establish the “target” for the motion path, Copy the contents of Scene 2 and Paste on the Transition 1 slide. Group the pasted items and set to No Fill and black outlines. This is what the transition 1 slide should look like:

  • Now, draw lines connecting the midpoints of each side of the rectangle. With some care, the endpoints of the lines will snap to the midpoints (a green endpoint indicates this has happened). Here’s what the slide looks like now:

  • The intersection of the two lines is the target endpoint for the animation.

This is similar to using Drawing Guides to help locate an endpoint; however, sometimes you need Guides outside of the slide boundary and PowerPoint doesn’t support that

  • Now add a Line motion path to the canvas. Position the end point of the motion path carefully at the intersection of the two crossed lines in the target. This may require zooming in to get the endpoint properly positioned. Here’s the result with the motion path:

  • Note that the start point of the motion path is automatically positioned at the center of the canvas.
  • Add the zoom (Grow/Shrink 199%) effect to the canvas With the motion path. Here’s what the animation looks like:

To change the size for the Grow/Shrink effect, click on the effect in the Animation Pane and select Effect Options.  Click on the down arrow on the Size field and change the value in the Custom box. For reasons known only to the PowerPoint creators, you must hit Return in the Custom box for the new size to “take.”

  • Test the animation: in Slide Show mode, click through Scene 1, the transition slide and Scene 2. If there is a noticeable jump between the transition slide and Scene 2, you probably need to refine the endpoint of the motion path.
  • You can adjust the animation parameters (timing, etc.) of the two effects to your liking. I unchecked the Smooth End box for the motion path; you may want to adjust the overall or relative timing of the two effects to your taste.
  • Repeat the process for the remaining scenes. the transition to scene 3 is just a pan (motion path) and the transition to scene 4 includes a Spin/Counterclockwise 15 degrees.
  • You can experiment with the timing of the animations and the “shape” of the motion path to get the effects you want.
  • Strictly speaking, the separate transition slides are not necessary.  However, I think they keep the work organized. Also, when a Grow (zoom in)  animation is used, the poor rendering of the result is immediately replaced by the scene slide.

For early versions of PowerPoint, the size of the enlarged canvas is important: motion paths fail for “large” objects. In particular, objects that are twice the size of the slide or larger are truncated when moved.

To clean up a transition slide. remove the target object (black outline above) and make the slide Transition automatic. Specifically, on the Transitions ribbon, set the Advance Slide/After 00:00:00 check box. This will run the animation steps in sequence (regardless of any Start on Click settings) and advance to the next slide immediately after the animations.

Is all this worth it? Hard to say, but at least you can add Prezi-like effects to your presentations and still use other PowerPoint features like additional animation on the slides.

Another project using these techniques is documented in “More Prezi.”

If you want a free Powerpoint “source” file that will help with the details of this project, use the link below, click on the icon and select download.

Powerpointy blog – prezi style

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